EDUCATION PLUS

Pay more to earn more

Changing times: Students on the campus of the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore

Changing times: Students on the campus of the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore  

DEEPA KURUP

Fee hike by IIMs and IITs cannot be grudged, feel many

Financial support easily available for those who cannot afford to pay much

Two weeks ahead of IIT-JEE, the entrance examination for admission to the Indian Institutes of Technology, the IITs have jointly mooted a proposal to double fees, amidst the controversy surrounding the fee hikes announced by various Indian Institutes of Management. While the Indian Institute of Management- Ahmedabad decided to increase its fee by over 200 per cent in March, after announcing a smaller hike in February, IIM-B and other IIMs announced relatively less steep hikes.

The sudden changes and announcements in the fee structure have once again put forth the question of affordability of higher education in India. While on the one hand several people are of the opinion that it does not pay to over-subsidise any course, others argue that this will set a bad precedent for other institutes, thereby making higher education further unaffordable.

With the booming economy, the rush to these institutes of excellence rises and increasing the fees might restrict several aspirants. However, experts and even students argue with logic that given the huge pay packets and placement benefits, even a hundred per cent increase would not deter any student. An engineering degree in all the seven IITs — Kharagpur, Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, Kanpur, Guwahati and Roorkee — now costs about Rs. 25,000 per annum as fees. If the increase is implemented a student will pay Rs. 2 lakh for the entire course.

“Given that at the end of the course we will get a minimum salary of Rs. 6 lakh per annum, it does not seem to be too much of a problem. Payment seats in all other colleges already cost that much,” says Vikram S., an engineering aspirant. However, even he agrees that loans may not be accessible to everyone.

Deterrent

Though most banks will easily give a loan of up to Rs. 7 lakh for education in India and no bank will refuse a loan to an IIT student, experts say that it could deter a student from an economically weak background from applying. “Thing have changed but I would not have wanted to start my life with a loan. Institutes must go out of the way to make sure that no student is denied the right to education,” says M.S. Thimmappa, an academician and ex-Vice-Chancellor of Bangalore University. As an academic he is also of the opinion that by and large higher education is highly subsidised and does not cover even 20 per cent of the costs. “Those who can afford should pay the full fee and considering our social context these institutes should put the affluent on a different platform. Others should be given affordable and subsidised education.”

“Actually, these guys earn an average salary of Rs. 6 lakh when they pass out of IITs and a few talented ones may take home as much as Rs. 15 lakh. People know the value of the education that they will be getting and do not mind paying for that,” says Jaideep Singh Chowdhary, project head of Triumphant Institute of Management Education. Though he says that he comes across several aspirants who may have a cash inflow problem, loans are easily available.

Flawed evaluation

Mr. Chowdhary says that there are greater issues at hand as far as education in the IITs is concerned. With IIT-JEE scheduled to be held on April 13, there are a few problems that may be detrimental to the spirit of the examination. While cut-offs have been lower in the past year, Mr. Chowdhary says that the system of evaluation that was adopted in 2007 and will be carried on to this year is flawed.

“To make it clearer, if compared to IIMs where you need to among the top 80 per cent to qualify, irrespective of your totals, in the IIT-JEE it is around 20 per cent to qualify,” he says. “A student can get away by concentrating on two subjects and not being extraordinarily proficient in the third.”

While IIM-Ahmedabad has decided to increase the fee from the current Rs. 5 lakh for both the years of the course to Rs 11.5 lakh, IIM-Bangalore will increase its fee to Rs. 9 lakh from Rs. 5 lakh. IIM-Kolkata has decided to increase the fee to Rs. 6 lakh for the entire course from Rs. 3.75 lakh. IIM-Kozhikode has decided to increase the fee to Rs. 6 lakh for the two-year programme from Rs. 3.85 lakh.

Regarding the statements issued by the Ministry of Human Resource Development about the fee hike, Pankaj Chandra, Director of Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore, said that he had not received any communication and that it was not applicable to IIM-B. IIM-Ahmedabad had raised its fee by Rs. 1 lakh in February and again in March. “We had got our hike pre-approved and there should not be any change in our announced fee structure.”

“I think the institute is undergoing massive expansion in terms of faculty, infrastructure and facilities provided. It is but natural that such a hike would come around,” says Aditya Kasyap, a first year student at IIM-Bangalore. “If I had to take a bigger loan, I would be able to manage but for those who cannot afford it the institute goes out of the way to provide financial support,” he explains. The financial assistance provided to students in the programme has been increased from Rs. 91.13 lakh to Rs. 1.5 crore.

The IIMs are considering conducting the Common Aptitude Test for management aspirants online. “The exam will be conducted as usual this year. The online test is something that has been discussed and we are looking to see if it is feasible. The Directors of all IIMs are exploring the possibilities and admissions for 2009 will certainly not be online,” said Prof. Pankaj Chandra.

Meanwhile, coaching institutes such as IMS have said that students have expressed apprehension over the supposed move and enquired if the coaching centres will provide training in this new mode. “Obviously there will be an issue related to reliability and viability of the tests,” said Ajay Arora, Regional Director of Triumphant Institute of Management Education. The test will be conducted in different phases, not on the same day. “This itself will create some apprehension since it will be difficult to ensure that difficulty levels will be same.”



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